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Sunday, 16 March 2014

All the Rage by A.L. Kennedy.

Book Review Rating ♥♥♥

Published by Random House UK, Vintage Publishing

Published March 2014

     Here are twelve short stories whose primary theme is love. But that large, pristine, smooth block of marble known as love, is, in the author’s hands, chiseled into monuments to lust, heartbreak and loss. Scattered around these monuments are small chunks of hope and humour that have been allowed to remain intact and which the reader stumbles over every so often as they look up at misery sculpted large.
                The writing style is staccato like and too often obtuse and dense. There is a stream of consciousness that permeates most of the stories with internal dialogues that at times feel like their pushing the reader away with their repetitive, minimalistic style of narrative.

                “And meanwhile you, there’s you and you were, you really, you absolutely – I absolutely – in all of the ways I would like to – in all the ways I would like
                But I
                But I
                But I
                But I
                Phone would be better.”

                                                                From, A Thing unheard of.

                But this repetitive, minimalistic style though at times distancing is honest. People’s external and internal dialogues are full of repetitious phrases and words that are used to make a point, or to make sure a word or phrase was heard by those listening. We look to validate a point and/or our place in our discussion group by repeating words and phrases. We repeat words or phrases in our internal dialogue so that when we have to repeat them out loud they will hopefully make sense.
                There are moments of laugh out loud humour. The story, Baby Blue, finds the protagonist in a sex shop surrounded by disembodied vaginas and penises.

                “Chocolate-flavoured condoms. They had chocolate-flavoured condoms.
                  You like penises, you like chocolate, why not both?
                  There are many whys for not both...
                  If I like penises, might I not be assumed to hope the flavour of a penis will be penis, which is to say not too much of a flavour, ideally just this subtle, unflavoured pleasantness and that isn’t a problem, how could that be a problem?”

                The author creates some joyous imagery that remains in the mind well after having moved onto the next story. Here Ms Kennedy is describing falling snow,

                “This is the style of fall that doesn’t seem it’ll be a problem, but it’s deceptive. The stuff doesn’t stop and tenderly eats up your street, your views, and settles, and being out in it will make you end up cold – cold in the lungs – and still it keeps on and overwhelms and then the fun’s gone.”

                These joyous moments of literature’s equivalent of a gravitational singularity are welcome in what at times feels like a dense quagmire of a narrative. The joyous moments feel like tree branches thrown to us readers to keep our head above the gelatinous mire, but all too often these branches were retracted and this reader began once more to sink into a literary quagmire.

Number of pages - 224
Sex Scenes - Yes
Profanity - Yes

This was sent to me via Netgalley pre-publication for an unbiased and honest review.

1 comment:

  1. Your last paragraph is so lovely, Chris. Such clear imagery. Not sure how I feel about staccato writing. Sometimes it works, sometimes it's annoying. I love minimalism, though. Hmm. Intriguing.

    I thought I'd read A.L. Kennedy, but looking at her list of titles online nothing looks familiar.